HS2 chiefs have been slammed after preliminary work began on the line – with trees cut down in Kenilworth at a wildlife haven during the bird nesting season.
Businessman and transport museum chairman Joe Elliot MBE was surprised and angry to find trees had been felled and hedges destroyed in Crackley Gap to prepare for the controversial high speed rail line.
Mr Elliot said: “How they can wreck this area so heavily when they said they were just going to do the hedges. It has totally surprised us and they’re also doing it in nesting season after they said they would do it before.
“Network Rail and HS2 seem paranoid about cutting down trees yet this wood has been mutilated and they have done it so early during nesting season – that’s our gripe. They’re going to kill off birds.”
The nesting season runs from February to August and wildlife organisations recommend works such as tree and hedge cutting are done outside the season.
But HS2 claimed the trees were checked closely for nests before any work was carried out.
A spokesperson added: “All vegetation work during the bird nesting bird season was carried out alongside an ecological specialist who checked the area before and during any work. If active nests were found, work would stop immediately and the specialist would ensure the nest was protected.
“As we deliver HS2, we’re very keen to respect the natural environment and improve conditions where we can. This includes working with ecological specialists to ensure no bird nests are disrupted by our work near Crackley Lane.
“We are also creating new wildlife habitats in the wider area, which will be part of an extensive ‘green corridor’ of woodlands, habitats and community spaces alongside the railway.”
HS2 also stressed ‘all directly impacted people’ had been notified about work in the area and local community groups were spoken with.
The London and Birmingham line will stretch for 190km – of which 54km will cut through the heart of the Coventry and Warwickshire region.
Work to offset the line includes the creation of wildlife habitats, including six ponds close to Kenilworth Golf Club, and the planting of more than 6,000 trees and shrubs.